The dates for the Fellowship Exam (FEX) for the second half of 2021 are 12 October for the Written and 5, 6 and 7 November for the Vivas. The exams will be held at multiple centres across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Neurosurgery and Vascular Surgery are not being examined at this sitting.

The method of delivery will again be the “Dispersed Model”, similar to sittings of the FEX in October 2020 and May/June 2021. Exam centres for the Writtens will be in each capital city and some major regional centres and will be computer based for most candidates. Paper based exams will be allowed in General Surgery and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and some others if requested as a Reasonable Adjustment for Disability.

The Vivas will be held in both countries, and in most states, but the location of the vivas for each specialty will vary. A matrix of travel restrictions and COVID requirements (including COVID testing and vaccination requirements) will be finalised in the next few weeks, and each specialty Court will be notified before the Vivas. These arrangements may change at short notice.

Contingencies for COVID

RACS Council and the broader community have recognised the need for adaptation of our processes in response to the ongoing pandemic. For this exam, it is recognised that the “dispersed model” still leaves the conduct of the FEX dependent on the prevailing COVID travel restrictions. Many have shared their feedback with Council on this matter, including their views on the pace of change needed. The successful models of exam delivery from overseas surgical exams and other local colleges have been sought and considered by the RACS Examinations department. 

The Court of Examiners have responded with contingency planning by altering the format of delivery of the FEX. In most specialties, clinical vivas working with patients have been modified. To examine the same competencies, live patients have been substituted with clinical photographs or short video presentations. Some specialties have trialled and are using totally remote examiners for the vivas. 

The Court will lead the evolution of the FEX to make the conduct of the FEX even more COVID adapted for 2022. The FEX will continue to test higher order thinking at the level of a first-year consultant and any adaptation will be evaluated to ensure that the examination continues to be valid and reliable. 

Any change in format of the FEX will be communicated to candidates with as much notice as possible.